Engine Maintenance

Low Oil Pressure: Symptoms, Causes and Solutions


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If your vehicle is experiencing low oil pressure, it is imperative that you deal with the causes immediately. The symptoms could be a sign of serious engine problems and there are many reasons why your car might be displaying low oil pressure symptoms. If your oil pressure gauge is reading low pressure, you may not know exactly where to start if you are not totally knowledgeable about the interior of your engine.

Diagnosing Low Oil Pressure Causes

If you want to know how to fix low oil pressure, the initial place you should start is with your dip stick. Grab a cloth and pull out the dip stick. Give it a wipe and place it back inside. Withdraw it again and see what level of oil appears on the markers. All dip sticks will have two levels of marking. One mark is to indicate the minimum amount of oil that should be in the engine and one for the maximum amount. Anything within those parameters is acceptable, so have a look and see what shows up. If there is enough oil appearing on the dip stick, the problem lies elsewhere. If there is considerably less oil than there should be, you may have a leak or you may be burning too much oil.

Time of Year

If you find that you are getting low oil pressure in the summer but not in winter, or vice versa, you should examine the type of oil you fill your engine with. High viscosity oil will be able to maintain good pressure throughout the summer, but in winter when temperatures are considerably lower, you may be better to swap your oil for a slightly lower viscosity to cope with the cooler conditions. High viscosity oil is too thick to cope in cold weather, but in summer it will be come loosened by the heat. To the same token, lower viscosity oil will be better in the winter but during summer it will become too thin and the oil pressure will reduce accordingly.

Oil Sump (Oil Pan or Tank)

If symptoms so far are not indicative of anything you have seen on your vehicle, you should look at problems with the oil pump screen. The screen is like a remedial filter which picks up dirt, grime and debris. You can locate this screen inside your sump tank. You will have to remove the oil from your vehicle in the same way that you would to change the oil. Remove the sump tank and check the pick up screen. If it is clogged with grime and debris you will have discovered the cause of your pressure problems. While you are inside the oil pan you should also run a check on the pick up tube to make sure it is securely and correctly mounted and is not suffering any obstructions. If everything appears as it should you can replace the oil pan, plug the drain and then refill with oil.

Other Possible Low Oil Pressure Causes

Crankshaft journals and rod bearings could be worn out. Bearing clearance could be too high. Check if you are burning too much oil and what the causes could be.

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